Seeing the Forest for the Trees

I recently got back in touch with a high school friend on Facebook. We chit-chatted, filling each other in on the short version of 20 years of missed events, and when I shared my divorce news, this was his response: “Congratulations! I know most people don’t say congratulations about a divorce, but I’ve found from all of my friends who’ve done it that they really are better off afterwards.”

I sent him back a big hearty THANK YOU! Because he was the first person who got it.

On Monday nights, I play basketball with a bunch of women. One week, I was cracking jokes about my predicament – silly things like, saying I’ll fix up my ex with someone single. A few of the women’s eyes went wide, their mouths into Os, horrified. I waved them away. “It’s my divorce,” I said. “I can make jokes if I want.”

Yes, divorce is a serious thing. But it’s also an important option. It wouldn’t exist in secular law or religious systems if there weren’t a reason for it.

My divorce is more pleasant than many, but there’s no doubt in my mind that Avy and I were ill-suited for long-term love success. We could’ve stuck it out like 1950s couples who “stayed together for the kids” – and passed their dysfunction on to the next generation of marriages.

But hey, I’m only 36 years old. I want a life. And if it won’t be at the side of my partner, then it’ll be a rich, full life of quality alone.

On Friday night, I had a lovely Shabbat dinner at a friend’s house. Two other big families were there – and one other lone woman, someone’s widowed mother. Nancy was a kick. Bright, smiling, vivacious – her enthusiasm was contagious.

We sat next to one another and before the meal even began, we realized that she had raised her four children in a neighborhood where a bunch of my high school friends lived. We played Jewish geography. And then the conversation came around to the topic of our solo statuses.

Nancy’s became a young widow 11 years ago. She had a happy marriage, but she told me she has no desire to marry again. Been there done that sorta thing.

One of her four kids is divorced and when he broke the news, here was her response: “I am so proud of you. Because now you’re not going to make each other miserable for the next 35 years.”

My divorce will be final in a few weeks and my husband will move out. Forever. This past weekend was hard without my children – they went with their father to his family for the last two days of Passover – but I guess it’s the price to pay for transforming my life from one of strife and turmoil into one of peace and productiveness.

I wish Avy well, truly I do. I hope he finds supreme happiness, the kind we couldn’t give each other. And I wish the same for myself.

The children will adjust and even though Asher told his Kindergarten buddy that he doesn’t understand why we’re getting a divorce, one day I hope he does. I’ll just have to love them up a lot, more than I normally would. Like last night: when they came home, I nursed Shaya in his rocking chair then carefully placed him asleep in his crib. Asher and Eliana bounded onto my big bed and, my arms slung around each of them, I read a book about witches and held them until they drifted into peaceful sleep.

We all experience bumps in the road. And we can choose to lament them or to ride them with eyes straight ahead, bravely scanning the horizon for a peek of smooth terrain.

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